Survey Counts Up `Green' Jobs

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Byline: Tim Christie The Register-Guard

An estimated 51,400 Oregonians worked in so-called green jobs last year, according to a new report from the state Employment Department.

The report, based on a survey of employers and released Monday, found that green jobs accounted for nearly 3 percent of employment in the private sector and in state and local government. That's roughly equivalent to the number of people who work in hospitals in Oregon, said Charlie Johnson, an economist with the Employment Department.

"What we found in our survey, and the reason why we call it a greening of Oregon's economy, is that we didn't find a separate unique economy, different from Oregon's economy," he said. "Many, if not all, of the green jobs are in occupations that already are in existence."

Green jobs are defined in the report to include those that involve working to: increase energy efficiency; produce renewable energy; prevent, reduce or mitigate environmental degradation; clean up and restore the natural environment; or provide education, consultation, policy promotion, accreditation, trading and offsets, or other similar services related to the first four categories.

That definition was made purposefully broad, leaving room for interpretation from each employer who completed the survey, according to the report's authors. They said that part of measuring green jobs is capturing public sentiment and counting jobs the public views as green.

"We found employers have a broad view of what constitutes a green job," Johnson said.

Green jobs counted in the report include engineers and architects; farmers and fishers; salespeople and lawyers; carpenters and truck drivers.

And even though employers responded to the survey last winter, in the depths of the recession, they were forecasting green jobs would increase 14 percent between 2008 and 2010.

Lane Community College President Mary Spilde said the state report points up the difficulty of doing an accurate count of green jobs. …